Magazine article Information Management

Canadians' Privacy at Risk

Magazine article Information Management

Canadians' Privacy at Risk

Article excerpt

In his 2001-2002 Annual Report to Parliament, George Radwanski, the privacy commissioner of Canada, issued a "solemn and urgent warning" that the Canadian government is walking down a path that threatens citizens' key privacy rights.

In what he calls an "unprecedented assault on privacy," Radwanski explains that the Canadian government is "using September 11 as an excuse for new collections and uses of personal information about all of us Canadians that cannot be justified by the requirements of anti-terrorism and that, indeed, have no place in a free and democratic society."

Specifically, Radwanski said he was alarmed by recent government initiatives, including

the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency's new "Big Brother" passenger database, which creates personal information dossiers on all citizens for investigative purposes

the provisions of section 4.82 of Bill C- 17, which requires, for the first time, de facto mandatory selfidentification to the police for general law enforcement

the "Lawful Access" paper, which advocates the widespread monitoring of communications activities and reading habits

a national ID card with biometric identifiers

the government's support of video surveillance of public streets by the police

According to Radwanski's report, governmental disregard for "crucially important" privacy rights is moving beyond isolated instances and becoming systematic. …

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